Athens Area Community Foundation Celebrates 10 Years and $4M in Grantmaking

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

The Athens Area Community Foundation is celebrating ten years since its founding in 2008. From its inception, the public grantmaking foundation, serving Clarke, Oconee, Jackson, Barrow, Oglethorpe, and Madison counties, has given out over 4.6 million dollars in grants, 1.5 million in the past year alone, mostly to local nonprofits.
The Athens Area Community Foundation builds community by encouraging strategic, long-term giving through funds created by local benefactors. The mission of the Athens Area Community Foundation is to help passionate donors leave permanent legacies, foster strategic philanthropy, and shape effective responses to community needs through collaboration. “The foundation is essentially a philanthropic bank for the community, providing expert management of funds, identifying local needs, and giving individual donors the opportunity to grant money to those organizations nearest to their hearts. The community foundation provides vital communication between nonprofits and donors,” explains Sarah McKinney, President|CEO.
Why A Community Foundation?

The Athens Area Community Foundation was founded by a group of philanthropically minded individuals who love the greater Athens community and want to see it thrive in every way possible. While there are many financial institutions that offer charitable funds, the deep connection with community is the cornerstone of the Community Foundation. Board Chair, Phil Bettendorf explains, “The community foundation acts as a partner, a connector, a legacy maker. Your funds are not only expertly managed, but we provide guidance on making a lasting impact. We have our finger on the pulse of the needs in our community and are in constant touch with nonprofits and community leaders. Our board members are great minds from every sector of the community with the goal of making the Athens area a great place to live, to work, and to be educated.”
What Does the Future Hold?

With assets now totaling $9.1M, a new President/CEO, an eager board, and active donors who want to make a difference with their dollars, the Community Foundation is poised for exceptional growth. Donors appreciate the return on their investments, as well as the fact that their giving can outlive them and impact many.
Every state in the United States is home to at least one community foundation, large or small, urban or rural. These foundations handle the nuts and bolts of accepting gifts, managing assets, and making grants, so donors can support the issues they care most about while making a collective impact on the entire community that is bigger, more responsive, and longer lasting than what can be done alone.
Davin Welter is Executive Director of Interfaith Hospitality Network, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing immediate shelter and guidance for homeless families. Davin explains “The AACF is a catalyst and a keystone for our community. AACF is thinking holistically about how to solve the challenges in Athens, and they are focused on connecting donors with organizations that can accomplish this work. We at Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens are working to solve homelessness for families and children, and we partner with AACF to achieve our mission.  As an organization that receives funds from AACF, this funding helps to strengthen our organization and allows us to be strategic and entrepreneurial in our approach. As a fund holder, I am pleased they are providing an excellent return on our cash reserves and quick access to those funds when needed. In addition, AACF broadens our reach into the Athens community and creates greater awareness for the work that we do. They have also helped to strengthen our organization by offering training that makes us a more efficient and effective nonprofit.”